If you decide to build a PC as per your own choice, this article will help you to get maximum performance by choosing right components considering your budget. Yes you can go any computer shop or online store, read couple of reviews then bought some item which hold good user ratings or expert’s review, bringing those item home and after assembling the PC, you’re expecting to get performance like as a brand PC. Yes you are mistaken. Off course those review you read before, those were not false. So what’s wrong with it?
Suppose you bought a latest Intel K series processor and put it on a sub 100-dollar motherboard which does not support overclocking. Or you bought a good motherboard costs near about 400 dollar that supports overclocking and had some features like Crossfire/ SLI. After wasting much power in motherboard to consume budget you get a low-end dual-core processor. Both case are pointless in return of performance.
In first case, there is no performance difference between normal processor and K-series processor in a sub 100-dollar motherboard, which doesn’t have overclocking capabilities. Your sub 100-dollar motherboard wouldn’t use the extra capabilities of K a series processor. You might found that it supports K series processor on your motherboard’s manual. That doesn’t means it can utilise all features of a K series processor. It has no option in BIOS/UEFI that you can overclock processor. It just run K series processor leaving all advance features unused.
On other case, you had a 400-dollar premium motherboard and put a dual core processor on it. You might understand that you can’t get maximum performance from this motherboard with a low-end processor. You bought this expensive motherboard because you had a plan to update processor in near future. Seems not a bad plan, but reality is a bit difference. When you go to update processor, you will see there are many new processors in your update time. Those new processor offer better price/performance, but none of them support your motherboard’s processor socket! To update processor you have to buy an old processor that suits your motherboard. May be it was best processor in benchmark when you bought your motherboard. But comparing it with new processor’s performance that available on your update time, you will surely disappoint.
Let give me a simple example. Suppose you bought a motherboard with a LGA 755 socket in 2007. For this motherboard core-2-extreme was in top position in benchmark and cost near about 1000$. After few years a third generation core-i3 offer similar performance as like a core-2-extreme processor but it cost only 120$. That means updating a processor, suit your motherboard costs almost a new computer built. Also best processor that matches your motherboard might be in already discontinued product list. Then your premium motherboard will become a showpiece item only. Faster updating processor socket may have some technical reason, but truly speaking hardware manufacture also has some monopoly business here. CPU manufacturers force people to buy a new motherboard to support their latest CPU. By doing this tricks they make new customer for their motherboard and related chipset business. So when you decide to build a new PC for your own, my suggestion is just leave the future planning. We can’t figure out what’s coming in future.
Ok now we understand that we have to make proper combination to get maximum performance with our entire device. But did we really need to spent couple of thousands dollar in our system? Answer is it depends what are you expecting to do with your PC. If you amide to just Internet browsing, watching movies or simple word-processing you don’t need a core i7 processor. A low budget Celeron or Dual-core processors easily handle these tasks. There are no big performance difference in a core i7 and Celeron processor in simple word processing application. But if you aimed to high-end gaming or running heavy application like video editing on your PC, a mid or high end processor required for these task. These applications use huge recourse. With a high-end processor, discrete graphics card also required for heavy applications and specially in gaming. Now we can categorise our user like
- Light User: Internet browsing, playing videos, word-processing or light gaming.
- Medium User: Sound Editing, Video editing, 3D Designing or gaming on medium resolution.
- High-end User: Gaming in ultra resolution, 3D rendering, complex vector drawing etc.
Here we categorise our user level. Its time to chose device based on these categories.
CPU: We already talked that light users doesn’t require a high end CPU. A normal Intel Celeron or dual core CPU is enough for light user. Medium users easily run their applications or games in an Intel core i3, or core i5 or its equivalent AMD competitor. In core i5 series processor Intel offer a P-series processor without graphics integrated, which is 10-20$ cheaper then regular core i5. Medium users may require a dedicated graphics card specially in gaming. In that case my suggestion will go for P-series processor to save some bucks. High-end users need an extreme CPU for their tasks, like Intel core i7 or AMD FX series.
Motherboard: Motherboard’s price mainly depends on its chipset. As an example Intel’s Z-87 chipset supports CPU overclocking, and those motherboard built on this chipset are comparatively expensive then B-75 chipset motherboard. Light user won’t have a multi graphics card setup or neither a high-end processor. So there are no reasons to buy an expensive motherboard for light user. A sub 100-dollar motherboard is perfect for them. I’m not telling you to go for cheapest one, just buy a trusted manufacturer’s motherboard that enough to handle your processor’s all features. Now lets talk about medium user’s motherboard. A 120-180 dollar motherboard is sufficient for this category. You will find some advance feature like CPU/GPU overclocking on these motherboard. In this price range most motherboard usually has at least 4-memory slot, sounds is pretty enough. Choosing a motherboard for high-end user is actually depends on all others accessories. In this category some user may need features like thunderbolt port. Price range starts for this motherboard usually 180 -400 dollar. Most motherboard in this category offers future like multi GPU solution, more then 4 memory slots, GPU/CPU overclocking etc.
Graphics Card: Actually a light user doesn’t need a discrete graphics card. Built-in GPU in processor is sufficient for their movie play back and light gaming. A 150-200$ GPU from NVIDIA/AMD will provide comfortable experience for medium user. High-end users can chose from 400 – 1000$ premium graphics card in multi GPU setup for their extreme graphics power requirement.
PSU: When building a computer many of us thinks like oh! Power supply unit! I already have one installed on my casing. But thinking like this, you may put your valuable computer in danger. A low quality PSU doesn’t have proper leakage current protection or over-voltage protection, which can entirely burn your motherboard/processor. In most case you wouldn’t get warranty replacement in burn case. I won’t recommend any PSU below 30$. Cheap non-branded PSU’s ratings are not accurate. Light users can comfort with a standard 300W PSU, with in a budget 40$. Medium users should have at least 400W-450W PSU in range 80$. High end users with multi GPU combination require heavy power supply from 600W-1.5KW PSU. Which may cost 80-250$. You can calculate your TDP from your entire device, and decide which one fulfils requirement of your PC TDP.
Memory: How much memory really necessary to run windows smoothly? In my opinion, 2GB is pretty good enough for light users. Medium users need at least 4GB memory. 8GB will give smooth experience. High-end users should use 8-32GB memory for their resource hungry applications. It’s always better to go with trusted company.
Storage: A 500GB hard disk is enough for a light user’s storage capacity. Medium and high-end users may have 1-3TB hard disks in 80$-170$. Moreover solid-state drive came in a reasonable price range now. At least a 60GB SSD along with hard disk will give light users much smooth experience for 70$. Medium users can effort with 128-256BGB SSD with in a budget 80-200$. 256-1TB large SSD may fulfil all necessity of high end users. Large capacities SSD costs about 200-1000$. In optical drive CD ROM listed itself on history now. Every one has at least a DVDWR drive for 20$. Blue-ray Drive starts from 50$ for HD movie lover.
Sound Card: Now a days most mother board has 6-8 channels built in sound card. Realtek ALC chipset series is mainly used in these motherboard. It good enough for normal use unless you devoted to high-end gaming or especially works on sound editing application. If you do, you probably need an extra-ordinary sound card like ASUS Xonar Essence STX costs near about 200$.
Other accessories like keyboard, mouse doesn’t have any affect in main system performance. They provide stand-alone performance on their own category. Buy a LCD/LED in your comfortable budget it wouldn’t hurt your computer speed.
In this article I didn’t provide any particular specific PC configuration. During writing this article I thought that, technology changes very frequently. Device specific configuration will be pointless after a period of time. Writing on same topic looks like “re-inventing the wheel again”. Mainly I focused on how to get a smart configuration and which things should be considered before buying PC components. By reading this large article hope you can figure out your own configuration.